United Poultry Concerns  

UPC’s letters to Tyson Foods, KFC, and the National Chicken Council

March 26, 2003

John Tyson, CEO/Chairman
Tyson Foods, Inc.
PO Box 2020
Springdale, AR 72765-2020

Request for Bird Welfare Improvements & Employee Policies Prohibiting Deliberate Cruelty to Birds

Dear Mr. Tyson:

United Poultry Concerns, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that addresses the treatment of domestic fowl in food production, science, education, and entertainment and promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. I am writing to you on behalf of our organization to urge you to develop significant bird welfare standards and to formulate policies regarding employee conduct to birds owned by your company. On January 30, 2003, Virgil Butler, a former Tyson employee for five years, signed a statement in which he described the repetitive sadistic cruelty to chickens practiced by five Tyson employees, including a superintendent and a supervisor, at your slaughter facility in Grannis, Arkansas. He documented the intentional scalding of chickens who suffered and struggled so much in the tanks that their eyeballs came out of the sockets, the intentional suffocation of chickens, the deliberate breaking of the legs of larger chickens to fit the shackles instead of adjusting the shackles, the deliberate dismemberment of chickens for fun and running over them with a forklift for fun, and blowing them up with dry ice bombs for fun. Mr. Butler wrote that this sadistic behavior was “just a part of a regular night’s work.”

There is reason to believe that the deliberate cruelty Mr. Butler described is commonplace in the poultry industry, including Tyson Foods, and we therefore urge Tyson Foods to develop standards for its employees to abide by in their conduct to the birds. We urge you to make these standards an integral part of all employee training programs, to post these standards prominently in the slaughter plants and in all other relevant facilities, in the appropriate languages, and to recommend that employees who torture chickens, turkeys, or any birds owned by your company in the ways Mr. Butler has described be fired immediately and prevented from working ever again in the poultry industry. You have a particular obligation to ensure that your company incorporates ethical standards of conduct into the training of supervisors and superintendents in the slaughterhouses and to encourage industry-wide standards of conduct by your example and influence.


John Tyson, CEO/Chairman United Poultry Concerns, Inc. March 26, 2003
Tyson Foods, Inc.

We continue to urge you to provide natural light and fresh air in the poultry houses, along with adequate space for each bird to walk and exercise freely in fresh litter instead of in ammoniated excrement and poisonous gases as is now the case, and to eliminate the forced rapid growth of chickens and turkeys. At just a few weeks old, most of these birds can barely walk without trembling, or even stand up, and none can move normally, due to the lameness, pain, and metabolic pathologies induced by the poultry industry; yet the February 2003 issue of WATT Poultry USA states that “[t]he rate of broiler growth and final market weights continue to increase,” and the same magazine stated in February 2002 that "[t]he yearly average body weight of 18-year-old toms continued to rise from 1966 to 2001,” with a projection of even greater live weights imposed on these birds in the next decade. This is a monstrous cruelty, as noted by a Simmons Foods chicken contract grower in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, whose “birds at 5 weeks can hardly stand because their legs are so weak and with no natural light or exercise their joints are too soft to carry the weight” (via email to UPC, 2/20/03).

Please tell us what steps, specifically, if any, Tyson Foods is taking to eliminate forced rapid growth, improve overall bird welfare, and set standards prohibiting the sadistic conduct documented by Mr. Butler in his affidavit. What, if any, punitive action was taken, or is being taken, by Tyson Foods against the five men he named in his affidavit? What steps are you taking to create work environments that are less conducive to the outbreaks of employee rage and displaced aggression that contribute to birds being personally tortured as well as systematically abused in your facilities by people in your company?

In the latter regard, we would like to know what steps Tyson Foods is taking to replace the surpassingly inhumane electrical-shock equipment, which is currently being used to paralyze more than 20 million fully conscious chickens and turkeys every day in U.S. slaughterhouses, with an argon gas-based technology that will mercifully kill the birds in the transport crates prior to shackling. We would appreciate a response from you as soon as possible. We look forward to your reply and thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,


Karen Davis, PhD
President
Phone: 757-678-7875
Fax: 757-678-5070


March 26, 2003

David Novak, Chair & CEO
KFC – Yum! Brands
1441 Gardiner Lane
Louisville, KY 40213

Request for Bird Welfare Improvements & Mandatory Supplier Policies Prohibiting Deliberate Cruelty to Chickens

Dear Mr. Novak:

United Poultry Concerns, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that addresses the treatment of domestic fowl in food production, science, education, and entertainment and promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. I am writing to you on behalf of our organization to urge you to develop significant bird welfare requirements and to formulate policies regarding supplier conduct to birds purchased by your company, in particular, Tyson Foods, your largest supplier. On January 30, 2003, Virgil Butler, a former Tyson employee for five years, signed a statement in which he described the repetitive sadistic cruelty to chickens practiced by five Tyson employees, including a superintendent and a supervisor, at the slaughter facility in Grannis, Arkansas. He documented the intentional scalding of chickens who suffered and struggled so much in the tanks that their eyeballs came out of the sockets, the intentional suffocation of chickens, the deliberate breaking of the legs of larger chickens to fit the shackles instead of adjusting the shackles, the deliberate dismemberment of chickens for fun and running over them with a forklift for fun, and blowing them up with dry ice bombs for fun. Mr. Butler wrote that this sadistic behavior was “just a part of a regular night’s work.”

There is reason to believe that the deliberate cruelty Mr. Butler described is commonplace in the poultry industry, including Tyson Foods, and we therefore urge you to impose strict regulations on Tyson Foods and your other suppliers to abide by in their conduct to the birds. We urge you to require that supplier standards be an integral part of all employee training programs and that your suppliers post these standards prominently in the slaughter plants and in all other relevant facilities, in the appropriate languages. We urge you to require that employees who torture chickens, turkeys, or any birds owned by your suppliers in the ways Mr. Butler has described be fired immediately. You have an obligation to demand that ethical standards of conduct be incorporated into the training of your suppliers’ supervisors and superintendents in the slaughterhouses and to encourage industry-wide standards of conduct by your example and financial influence.


David Novak, Chair & CEO United Poultry Concerns, Inc. March 26, 2003
KFC – Yum! Brands.

Please require that your suppliers of poultry products provide natural light and fresh air in the poultry houses, along with adequate space for each bird to walk and exercise freely in fresh litter instead of in ammoniated excrement and poisonous gases as is now the case. Require that they eliminate the forced rapid growth of chickens. At just a few weeks old, most of these birds can barely walk without trembling, or even stand up, and none can move normally, due to the lameness, pain, and metabolic pathologies induced by the poultry industry; yet the February 2003 issue of WATT Poultry USA states that “[t]he rate of broiler growth and final market weights continue to increase.” This is a monstrous cruelty, as noted by a Simmons Foods chicken contract grower in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, whose “birds at 5 weeks can hardly stand because their legs are so weak and with no natural light or exercise their joints are too soft to carry the weight” (via email to UPC, 2/20/03).

Please tell us what steps, specifically, if any, KFC – Yum! Brands is taking to eliminate forced rapid growth, improve overall bird welfare, and set standards prohibiting the sadistic conduct documented by Mr. Butler in his affidavit. What, if any, punitive action have you urged Tyson Foods to take against the five men he named in his affidavit? What steps are you taking to encourage your suppliers, and in particular Tyson Foods, to create work environments that are less conducive to the outbreaks of employee rage and displaced aggression that contribute to birds being personally tortured as well as systematically abused in facilities owned by your suppliers of chicken products?

In the latter regard, we would like to know what steps you are taking to get Tyson Foods to replace the surpassingly inhumane electrical-shock equipment, which is currently being used to paralyze more than 20 million fully conscious chickens and turkeys every day in U.S. slaughterhouses, with an argon gas-based technology that will mercifully kill the birds in the transport crates prior to shackling. We would appreciate a response from you as soon as possible. We look forward to your reply and thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,


Karen Davis, PhD
President
Phone: 757-678-7875
Fax: 757-678-5070


March 26, 2003

George Watts, President
National Chicken Council
1015 15th Street, NW, Suite 930
Washington DC 20005-2605

Request for Bird Welfare Improvements & Employee Policies Prohibiting Deliberate Cruelty to Chickens

Dear Mr. Watts:

United Poultry Concerns, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that addresses the treatment of domestic fowl in food production, science, education, and entertainment and promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. I am writing to you on behalf of our organization to urge you to develop significant bird welfare standards and to formulate policies regarding employee conduct to birds belonging to your member companies. On January 30, 2003, Virgil Butler, a former Tyson employee for five years, signed a statement in which he described the repetitive sadistic cruelty to chickens practiced by five Tyson employees, including a superintendent and a supervisor, at the company’s slaughter plant in Grannis, Arkansas. He documented the intentional scalding of chickens who suffered and struggled so much in the tanks that their eyeballs came out of the sockets, the intentional suffocation of chickens, the deliberate breaking of the legs of larger chickens to fit the shackles instead of adjusting the shackles, the deliberate dismemberment of chickens for fun and running over them with a forklift for fun, and blowing them up with dry ice bombs for fun. Mr. Butler wrote that this sadistic behavior was “just a part of a regular night’s work.”

There is reason to believe that the deliberate cruelty Mr. Butler described is commonplace in the chicken industry, and we therefore urge the National Chicken Council to develop industry-wide standards for employees to abide by in their conduct to the birds. We urge you to make these standards an integral part of all employee training programs, to post these standards prominently in the slaughter plants and in all other relevant facilities, in the appropriate languages, and to recommend that employees who torture chickens in the ways Mr. Butler has described be fired immediately and prevented from working ever again in the poultry industry. You have a particular obligation to ensure that your member companies incorporate ethical standards of conduct into the training of supervisors and superintendents in the chicken slaughterhouses.


George Watts, President United Poultry Concerns, Inc. March 26, 2003
National Chicken Council

We continue to urge you to pressure your member companies to provide natural light and fresh air in the chicken houses, along with adequate space for each chicken to walk and exercise freely in fresh litter instead of in ammoniated excrement and poisonous gases as is now the case, and to eliminate the forced rapid growth of chickens. At just a few weeks old, most of these birds can barely walk without trembling, or even stand up, and none can move normally, due to the lameness, pain, and metabolic pathologies induced by your industry; yet the February 2003 issue of WATT Poultry USA states that “[t]he rate of broiler growth and final market weights continue to increase.” This is a monstrous cruelty, as noted by a Simmons Foods contract grower in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, whose “birds at 5 weeks can hardly stand because their legs are so weak and with no natural light or exercise their joints are too soft to carry the weight” (via email to UPC, 2/20/03).

Please tell us what steps, specifically, if any, the National Chicken Council is taking to eliminate forced rapid growth, improve overall bird welfare, and set standards prohibiting the sadistic conduct documented by Mr. Butler in his affidavit. What, if any, punitive action was taken, or is being taken, against the five men he named in his affidavit? What steps are you taking to create work environments that are less conducive to the outbreaks of employee rage and displaced aggression that contribute to birds being personally tortured as well as systematically abused in your facilities by people in your industry?

In the latter regard, we would like to know what steps the National Chicken Council is taking to replace the surpassingly inhumane electrical-shock equipment, which is currently being used to paralyze more than 20 million fully conscious chickens every day in U.S. slaughterhouses, with an argon gas-based technology that will mercifully kill the birds in the transport crates prior to shackling. We would appreciate a response from you as soon as possible. We look forward to your reply and thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,


Karen Davis, PhD
President
Phone: 757-678-7875
Fax: 757-678-5070


United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
757-678-7875
FAX: 757-678-5070
www.upc-online.org

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